Tag Archives: Darragh Kenny

Kenny Continues Dream of a Week, Azcarraga Is Best in Winning Round at Spruce Meadows ‘National’ Tournament

Darragh Kenny and Picolo. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.

Calgary, AB, Canada – June 6, 2014 – Ireland’s Darragh Kenny continued a stellar week at the ‘National’ Tournament, presented by ROLEX, when he won the $35,000 Encana Cup 1.45m with Picolo. Jaime Azcarraga (MEX) and Matador were victorious in the $35,000 RBC Capital Markets Cup 1.50m Winning Round class.

The ‘National’ Tournament, presented by ROLEX, is the first of five tournaments in the Summer Series and runs through Sunday, June 8. The highlight of the week is Saturday’s $400,000 RBC Grand Prix presented by ROLEX. Also on Saturday is the $60,000 TransCanada Parcours de Chasse, while the 210,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup 1.50m Derby is on Sunday, June 8.

Watch highlights from Friday at the ‘National’!

For his second International Ring win ever, Darragh Kenny set an early unbeatable pace with Oakland Ventures LLC’s Picolo. The 11-horse jump-off in the $35,000 Encana Cup 1.45m was stacked full of big names like Spooner, Foster, Lamaze, and Ward, but Kenny and Picolo completed the jump-off course in their usual smooth fashion in 38.90 seconds. They were 1.3 seconds faster than Richard Spooner (USA) and Amparo Z, owned by Legacy Stables LLC (40.23 seconds). Third place went to Mac Cone (CAN) on Vannety B. They finished in 40.80 seconds.

“I knew there were a lot of people in the jump-off that were very fast,” Kenny acknowledged. “I had to go early in the jump-off. He’s a very capable horse; he’s very fast. I thought I’d just go for it and leave the door closed. Lucky enough, that worked out for me.”

Kenny was full of praise for Picolo, who is an 11-year-old gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Alme. “He just wins and wins and wins and tries so hard,” he said. “When you get a horse that wants to do that much for you, it’s incredible.”

This is only the second year that Kenny has shown at Spruce Meadows; last year he came with more clients and only had one horse for the major classes. “Now I’m lucky; I have a couple of very good owners and some really nice horses, and I get to do this at the level I want to do it at,” he said.

In just three days, Kenny has had 13 top three finishes across four competition rings on eight different horses. When asked if he thought he would have a week like this, he replied, “No, I didn’t. I know I have some good horses and some very competitive horses, but you have the best riders in the world here. To try and beat them is very, very difficult. It’s extremely difficult to win here. To do that, I’m very lucky. It’s all about what you’re riding. You can do the best you can, but if you’re riding something that doesn’t want to win, you have no chance.”

Kenny praised the facility of Spruce Meadows, with the variety of classes, competition rings, and support available. “It’s incredible that we have these sponsors and the chance to jump for this prize money in this ring. The feeling when you win here is unbelievable. To win twice in one week (in the International Ring), I’m very happy with that,” he smiled.

He continued, “It’s probably the most amazing facility in the world for show jumping. I love jumping on grass. I grew up in Ireland and always jumped on grass. To have the footing that they have here is absolutely brilliant. They have so many rings, and you can do so many things here.”

Azcarraga Tips Swail in Winning Round

The $35,000 RBC Capital Markets Cup Winning Round 1.50m had just 22 entries, but the exciting format brought back the top 10 to compete for speed in the second round. Going last in the class, Azcarraga knew exactly what he needed to accomplish, and he sped to victory in 45.77 seconds. He was chasing a time of 46.00 seconds set by Conor Swail (IRL) and Martha Louise, owned by Susan and Ariel Grange. Third place went to Ambosell I and Pablo Barrios (VEN), who stopped the clock in 46.31 seconds.

Jaime Azcarraga and Matador
Jaime Azcarraga and Matador

“I was able to see [Conor] because he went right in front of me. I was lucky to be behind because he was running really fast and I had to catch him,” Azcarraga said.

Azcarraga is a familiar face at Spruce Meadows, having first come to compete in 1985, and he has won through four decades. He was the winner of this class in 2008 on Forastero and is known for riding the famous stallions Chin Chin and Presley Boy. Azcarraga found Matador, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion by Indoctro x Corland, as a seven-year-old and has brought him along in preparation for top competitions. This is the horse’s second international competition.

“He really likes to do the job,” Azcarraga said of Matador. “He was very good on Wednesday, so I tried to ride him good, and he did the job. It feels good to work with the horses. Every horse is different and some take more time to develop. Matador is 12 years old now, and I think he’s ready.”

As an amateur rider, Azcarraga splits his time between riding “every day” in Mexico and running his family’s business. Azcarraga recalled, “I’m very happy to be here again. It’s tough to win here at Spruce Meadows. I was telling Norman Dello Joio, that to come from Mexico with the level we have, to jump here in the five-star is really shocking, to come here and see the fences. I try to come in the summers and do some trips for international shows. I have to take care of the business in Mexico, so it’s not so easy to go out and compete. But if you come here, you always keep the level. In the summer it’s a good place to stay in front.”

It was a great return to the International Ring for Swail, who severed his Achilles tendon riding Ariana at the Royal Winter Fair this past November. He has been off for more than six months.

“One of most difficult things is the mental side of it, where you have to wait for such a long time. When I got the injury, I was unaware of how big an injury it was. It’s a big ligament to damage for a show jumping rider,” he explained. “I have to say though, I got through it fine. It’s just a matter of getting healthy and being able to do the job. It’s fabulous to be back.”

Conor Swail and Martha Louise
Conor Swail and Martha Louise

Swail is very happy to be back in the ring and in the victory gallop. He said, “I thought today I was going to get in that winner’s circle. Ariana was third the other day and she was leading for a long time, and I thought that would have been nice. The horses are nice and fresh. I’m a little rusty still, so hopefully there is more to come. I’m delighted with how [Martha Louise] went today; she jumped a fabulous round. It was very fast. I’m happy to be second. It wasn’t our day today, but hopefully it’s just around the corner.”

Tomorrow’s schedule brings the highlight of the week, the $400,000 RBC Grand Prix, presented by ROLEX. Phase I begins at 9 a.m. MST, and Phase II will kick off at 2 p.m. MST. In between, the $60,000 Transcanada Parcours de Chasse speed class will run. For more information and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the brainchild of the Southern family who built a Show Jumping complex at the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. It was in 1976 that the first Spruce Tournaments were held, with annual spectator attendances reaching over 50,000 by the end of the decade. Today, Spruce Meadows boasts one of the greatest outdoor equestrian venues in the world and offers an incredible experience for riders and fans alike. Spruce Meadows focuses on the organization and hosting of show jumping tournaments of unmatched quality for junior, amateur and professional athletes in a manner that reflects basic family values in a clean, green and welcoming environment that celebrates the horse and encourages the breeding and training of quality sport horses and the teaching and development of athletes. For more information on Spruce Meadows, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.

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Alpha VDL Is Worth the Wait for Darragh Kenny as They Win HITS Saugerties $50,000 Grand Prix

©ESI Photography. Darragh Kenny and Alpha VDL jumped to a win in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix.

SAUGERTIES, NY (May 26, 2014) – Darragh Kenny first saw Alpha VDL at the VDL Sport Horse Auction in Florida two years ago, and instantly knew he wanted to ride the then 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Kenny had to be patient however, until this past January, for his wish to come true. The pair was quick to find their way to the top, winning the $50,000 Grand Prix during Week V at HITS before topping the field in Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, at HITS Saugerties.

“I knew he was going to be a winner,” Kenny said about his attraction to Alpha VDL, who is owned by Eva Castegren. “I wasn’t able to find someone to buy him for me when I saw him at the auction, but lucky that Eva gave me the opportunity this year. He tries so hard, is careful, eager and easy to ride.”

Kenny hails from Wellington, Florida and was the rider to beat from start to finish in the Strongid® C 2X™ Grand Prix Stadium, jumping the first clear round from the fifth spot in the original order. Seven more eventually joined him with clear rounds over a course designed by Marina Azevedo of Campinas, Brazil. Thirteen obstacles and 16 jumping efforts formed a test that served as a conclusion to the first week of grand prix qualifying for the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson.

“This has always been a successful horse show for me and think that we [as riders] don’t always realize how lucky we are to compete for significant prize money during the HITS circuit and then jump for $1 million,” said Kenny. “To have not only one million-dollar class in the U.S., but three, gives us amazing opportunities.”

While thrilled with his clear round, Kenny was burdened with jumping first in the jump-off with the likes of McLain Ward, Christine McCrea, Todd Minikus, Darragh Kerins and Quentin Judge behind him.

Kenny left a stride out in the first line of the shortened course and “kicked all the way through the timers”, stopping the clock in 35.22 seconds, establishing the Great American Time to Beat.

“When I walked the course, the first line walked in nine, but Alpha has a big stride and we managed the eight,” said Kenny. “It’s always scary nerve wracking when people like McLain are behind you because they rarely make mistakes, so just hoped I was fast enough.”

Ward, of Brewster, New York, and Blue Chip Bloodstock’s Dulien Van De Smeets also jumped the first two fences in eight strides, but was a tenth slow. They clocked a time of 35.36 seconds and collected second.

Kenny was fortunate to appear in the jump-off twice and collected third aboard Hyperion, LLC’s Imothep with a clear effort in 36.76 seconds. He and Ward were the only riders to boast double-clear rounds.

Minikus, of Loxahatchee, Florida, and Quality Girl, owned by Quality Group, proved their reputation for speed with a time of 35.12 seconds. A heartbreak rail at the third fence left them with four faults and the white ribbon.

McCrea, who hails from East Windsor, Connecticut, claimed fifth in the irons aboard Candy Tribble’s Wannick WH, with four faults and a time of 39.83 seconds. Ward was sixth on Double H Farm’s HH Fleur, Kerins seventh with his own Zerro Leone, and Judge eighth aboard HH Whisky Royale for Double H Farm.

After deciding how to spend his Sunday winnings, the next big question for Kenny is who he will ride in the Zoetis Million this September. “I’m fortunate enough to have two horses with that kind of scope,” said Kenny of Alpha VDL and Imothep. “I’ll see how the rest of the summer goes and decide who is ready – they both have what it takes.”

About Zoetis
Building on 60 years of experience as Pfizer Animal Health, Zoetis delivers quality medicines and vaccines, complemented by diagnostics products and genetics tests and supported by a range of services. They work every day to better understand and address the real-world challenges faced by those who raise and care for animals in ways they find truly relevant. Zoetis produces a comprehensive range of safe and effective products, including equine vaccines, dewormers and sedative analgesics, to help professionals and individual horse owners keep their animals healthy. Both veterinarians and horse owners know and trust the Zoetis will help their horses live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

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Alfano and Candid Are Picture Perfect for Grand Hunter Championship at Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows

Jennifer Alfano and Candid. Photos copyright The Book LLC.

Darragh Kenny and Picolo Capture 1.40m Jumper Win

North Salem, NY – May 7, 2014 – The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse shows awarded their first hunter championships of the season today, and taking the Grand Hunter Championship was Candid, ridden and owned by Jennifer Alfano of Buffalo, NY. In the Grand Prix Field, jumpers had plenty of entries as Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Picolo won over 53 others in the $5,000 Open Jumper 1.40m class.

The Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows run May 6-11 and May 13-18 at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY. The shows feature over 130 hunter and jumper classes each week, bringing together top competitors, including Olympic show jumpers, from across the country to compete for almost $500,000 in prize money.

Candid’s performance in the Green Conformation Hunters garnered him the overall Grand Hunter Championship. On the first day, Candid and Alfano were first and third over fences and took the top ribbon in the under saddle and model classes. They finished with two more blue ribbons over fences. The reserve champion in the division was Winston, ridden by Brooke Baldwin-deGrazia and owned by Lannie Lipson. They won an over fences class and took four second places and a third in the rest of the division.

Alfano found Candid, who is called “Sheldon” after the TV character on “The Big Bang Theory,” a year ago through Terry Brown. The six-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Quintender was the third horse that she purchased just for herself.

“I actually own him myself, which is really fun,” she affirmed. “Terry finds great horses. I had bought another horse from her for myself, and I sold him in a week! I was really sad because I really liked him! Then she said, ‘I have another one for you.’ [Candid is] a really fun horse, and he’s gotten really consistent. He’s very aware of his surroundings. He’s not spooky at the jumps, but he’s aware of everything that’s happening, so I think it gives him a really good presence in the ring.”

Although Candid is an investment, Alfano does hope to keep him through the rest of the year. “Eventually I’ll sell him, but I would love to keep him through his First Year year, just because I’m really having a good time. I’m not sure I’ll own one as nice as him again! I’m enjoying it.”

This is Alfano’s first time competing at the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows. “I like it,” she said. “Everything has been nice. The jumps are beautiful, and the ring looks really pretty. So far we’re having a really good time!”

Darragh Kenny and Picolo
Darragh Kenny and Picolo

In a class of 54 entries, Darragh Kenny and Picolo, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Diamant de Semilly owned by Oakland Ventures, took the top spot in the $5,000 Open Jumper 1.40m class with a clear round in a time of 32.493 seconds. Second place went to Balboa 6, ridden by Leslie Howard for Martin Guerra. Their time was 32.709 seconds, while McLain Ward rode Blue Chip Bloodstock’s Dulien van de Smeets to third place in 32.919 seconds.

Picolo has continued his success that started near the end of this winter’s FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, where they had top three performances in FEI world ranking classes. Kenny noted, “He’s very, very competitive, and he’s really fun. He was second in a $100,000 grand prix last summer, and I’ll start to graduate him up to bigger classes again. He was a little bit sick during the winter; he had ulcers. We’ve taken our time getting him right. He was just right at the end of Florida and showed week 11. After that, he went and had a good break out in the field before we came here.”

Kenny said that Picolo’s personality and easygoing nature is what makes him stand out. “He’s my pet. Actually, he’s everybody in the barn’s pet,” he expressed. “They all love him. He’s just a fun horse to have around. Anyone can ride him; he’s so easy. He goes in a soft rubber snaffle. You don’t put any boots on him. Everybody can flat him, anyone can jump him.”

The opportunity to show on the grass Grand Prix Field at Old Salem Farm was one that Kenny took advantage of, along with many top show jumpers. “It’s a fantastic preparation. For me, I really love coming to this horse show. I think it’s a great preparation for Spruce Meadows. You get out on the grass, and there are good hills. And for all of my clients, it’s great. They get used to it. It’s a very different thing to ride on a hilly ring with grass than a flat, sand ring. The jumps come up faster and come up at different angles. It changes how the horses jump the jumps.”

Kenny and Picolo will be back in action for Friday’s $35,000 New York Welcome Stake. Tomorrow’s horse show highlights include Grand Adult Amateur Hunter Championship and another $5,000 Open Jumper 1.40m class.

WATCH LIVE! The $50,000 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix on May 11, the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby on May 17, and the $100,000 Empire State Grand Prix on May 18 will all be broadcast on the USEFNetwork.com presented by SmartPak. You may watch these events as they happen at www.USEFNetwork.com or www.oldsalemfarm.net. All classes in the Grand Prix Field and Sand Ring are also livestreamed daily at www.shownet.biz.

Full horse show results can be found at www.horseshowsonline.com.

Visit the Old Salem Farm and Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows Facebook pages for results, photo galleries, and more! Old Salem Farm has joined Twitter and Instagram too – follow us to see exclusive photos and videos, let us know what you like about our events, and share your experiences.

Old Salem Farm, located just one hour north of New York City, is one of the best equestrian competition venues in North America, as rated by the North American Riders Group in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Host of the Old Salem Farm Spring Horse Shows, the prestigious American Gold Cup CSI-W 4*, and year-round competitions, the facility offers a state-of-the-art turf grand prix field, indoor riding arena, and two all-weather footing rings. As a boarding and training facility, Old Salem Farm is second to none and home to top trainer Frank Madden. For more information, please visit www.oldsalemfarm.net or call 914-669-5610.

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Nick Dello Joio, Sloane Coles, and Darragh Kenny Top Adequan Young Jumper Classics

Nick Dello Joio and Boomerang. Photos © Sportfot.

Sara Ballinger and Wanderprinz Earn Top Call in Ariat National Adult Medal

Wellington, FL – March 28, 2014 – The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) hosted classics for the young jumpers on Friday during its twelfth and final week of competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. In the $20,000 Adequan 8-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic, Nick Dello Joio (USA) and Boomerang were the winners. Sloane Coles (USA) and WEC l’Ami Noir topped the $20,000 Adequan 7-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic, and Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Dakota VDL won the $15,000 Adequan 6-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic.

FTI WEF week twelve, sponsored by FTI Consulting, continues through March 30, 2014. Saturday will feature the $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final and $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5* along with round one of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, which concludes on the derby field on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Live streaming is available on Saturday, March 29, at approximately 6:30 p.m. EST for the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix CSI 5*. Live streaming will begin with the $100,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Series Final Jump-off. Watch here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/2014-fti-finale-grand-prix-live.

Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) set the tracks for Friday’s young jumper classes in the International Arena at PBIEC. All of the classes were held with the option to either jump-off immediately following their round or wait until after the first round of competition. In the $20,000 Adequan Eight-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic, 61 entries showed with eight to jump-off, and five double clear rounds. Nick Skelton (GBR) led the way with Aristio for most of the class, jumping off early in 38.60 seconds, but eventually moved into third place. Adam Prudent (FRA) jumped off after his round with Henri Prudent’s Si Bella and briefly took the lead in 38.09 seconds, but was pushed into second. Nick Dello Joio (USA) chose to return for his jump-off round at the end, and took over for the win with Emilie Martinsen’s Boomerang in 37.35 seconds.

Boomerang, a KWPN gelding by Orlando x Lux, is a horse that Martinsen rode last summer and then asked Dello Joio to ride with the idea to bring him along and sell.

“I am privileged to ride him,” Dello Joio stated after his win. “He is full of character. He is a small horse, but he has more scope and more range than any horse I think I have ever ridden. He is a bit cheeky and has a lot of personality. I think all of that combined is what makes him a super horse.”

“I have been riding him at this circuit for five or six weeks, and I think it is time for him to move up,” the rider noted. “This is a good division for him, but he is better over a bigger fence, so I think it’s time to see what he’s got. We have schooled him at home and other places, and when the horse jumps bigger, he is way more focused. When he jumps smaller, it is just too easy for him. It’s like (Michael) Jordan playing street ball or something. It’s not fair, so I’m excited to take him to the next level.”

Commenting on the ride and his decision to wait to jump-off until the end, Dello Joio explained, “With horses like him, you always want to keep them a little bit under your thumb. You want to keep them with you and together. He’s not a horse that you want to get off his back and let him do what he wants. You have to kind of work together, and that is when he is at his best, and his most focused.”

“In the first round, maybe I left him a little bit too fresh,” Dello Joio mused. “He is so gamey; he is so on it, so he finished the first round, and I thought I would just bring him out and let him chill. I wanted to re-school him and get his focus again, and then go back in and have a round like that, and it paid off.”

For his round in the jump-off, Dello Joio asked the advice of his father, Norman, heading in. “I asked dad what he thought about it, if we wanted to push him or how important this class was for him,” the rider explained. “He just said, ‘Be smart and be smooth.’ The horse is so quick across the ground; his stride eats it up for a little horse. I had to almost chip and do the nine (strides) down the last line. Everyone else was galloping and I could have done eight if I really needed to, but I saw the clock and I was like, ‘All right, wait, easy.’ I just made neat turns and used his stride to my advantage. I have never really put any gas on the fire, so it worked out.”

Dello Joio plans to step Boomerang up a little bit in the months to come and knows that the horse has a great future. “There are some shows here in April, so maybe we will pull him out one week and jump one of the grand prix classes here on him quietly, without a ton of people, and just see what he does and see how he reacts to it,” he said. “Then the plan is for him to go to Old Salem and Spruce Meadows, which I think will be fantastic mileage for him. Old Salem is an amazing venue, and Calgary, there is no better in the world for experience for horses. If he keeps going like that, he is a super horse, so I think he will get sold.”

Sloane Coles and WEC l’Ami Noir Win $20,000 Adequan Seven-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic

The $20,000 Adequan Seven-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic was featured at the FTI WEF on Friday afternoon with 20 out of 72 entries making it through to the jump-off and 13 double clear rounds over Anthony D’Ambrosio’s short course. Early on, Sloane Coles (USA) and The Windwood Group’s WEC l’Ami Noir set a very fast pace in 30.84 seconds that would hold on to the lead through the end. Ronan McGuigan (IRL) and Blythe Masters’ Chapeau finished second in 30.96 seconds. Tim Gredley (GBR) and Unex Billy Dream placed third in 31.65 seconds, and Ramiro Quintana (ARG) and St. Bride’s Farm’s Tua Efele finished fourth in 32.22 seconds.

Sloane Coles and WEC l'Ami Noir
Sloane Coles and WEC l’Ami Noir

WEC l’Ami Noir is a Holsteiner gelding by Cormint x Corrado I that owners at The Windwood Group purchased as a five-year-old. Coles started riding l’Ami two months ago and has been showing the gelding in the seven-year-old classes throughout the last half of the FTI WEF circuit, including a win during week ten leading up to the final.

“When the owners bought him, they kind of knew that he was going to be a grand prix horse, and I think he has proven that already as a seven-year-old,” Coles noted. “He is just very scopey and very careful. He is light on his feet and quick off the ground. He wants to be a winner; he really wants to be fast. The rideability is there, it is getting better, but he is just a super horse and I am looking forward to having him in the future.”

Speaking of l’Ami’s personality, Coles described, “When we first got him, he was a little bit funny. He didn’t want to be loved on and he was a little weird, but now we are spoiling him and he is really developing a personality. He is very put together, almost proud of himself. He is big and beautiful and he knows he is a good horse, which is good.”

“I didn’t start showing him here until maybe week six, but he has done the seven-year-old classes the whole circuit,” she detailed. “Today was bigger than it has been down here, and I feel like he just stepped up. I feel like he definitely could have jumped bigger today if he had to. His stride is huge. I left out strides in a couple of places in the jump-off, and I think that is how I won it.”

Coles heads back to her base in Middleburg, VA, after this week and shows in Virginia and Kentucky throughout the summer with the goal of the Seven-Year-Old Young Jumper Championships at the Hampton Classic in August.

Darragh Kenny and Dakota VDL Top $15,000 Adequan Six-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic

The $15,000 Adequan Six-Year-Old Young Jumper Classic was the first class in the International Arena at PBIEC on Friday with a win for Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Hyperion Stud LLC’s Dakota VDL. The six-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Casall x Contender) was purchased from VDL Stud two years ago for the highest bid of $210,000 at the 2012 WEF Sport Horse Auction in Wellington. Kenny started riding the horse this year in the middle of January and showed throughout the winter at the 1.30m level.

In Friday’s six-year-old classic, the pair topped a class of 63 entries where 26 advanced to the jump-off. They had the fastest time of 34.60 seconds out of 11 double clear rounds. Sloane Coles and The Windwood Group’s WEC Damokles finished second in 35.25 seconds. Alex Granato (USA) guided Page Tredennick’s Calchen W to third place honors in 35.28 seconds, and Darrin Dlin (CAN) and Susan Grange’s Tienna placed fourth in 35.70 seconds.

Darragh Kenny and Dakota VDL
Darragh Kenny and Dakota VDL

“He is really a special horse,” Kenny praised. “He was already jumping the 1.30m easy. He basically did not do any of the six-year-old classes all winter because we wanted to jump him a little bit bigger. He has huge scope, and he is very careful. He is very, very competitive and today he was super.”

“He is super easy,” the rider added. “There is nothing difficult about him. He doesn’t spook, he has loads of jump, he is very careful and easy to ride. It is an easy thing to go in and try to win a class like this on him. He makes my life very easy, so that’s nice. The idea is to just keep building him up and see where he goes. I think he has all the ability to be a top horse.”

Kenny commented on the course, stating, “I thought it was very good. It was a little technical and a little spooky, which was good. The good horses ended up at the top and that was the right way to do it.”

Kenny and Dakota VDL had an impressive round through D’Ambrosio’s short course to conclude their FTI WEF circuit with a win, and Kenny looks forward to furthering the horse’s potential when they show together again in Canada this summer.

“I think actually on Monday he is going to leave to go back to Hyperion Stud in Virginia to start breeding,” Kenny noted. “He will do a lot of breeding for April and some of May and then he will come to Spruce Meadows for me to jump. He will keep breeding for the future and then we will keep showing him and see where it goes.”

Sara Ballinger and Wanderprinz Earn Top Call in Ariat National Adult Medal

Sara Ballinger of Marion, OH, and her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Wanderprinz finished first in the Ariat National Adult Medal on Friday morning of week twelve at the FTI WEF. Ballinger and Wanderprinz were the final pair to enter the ring, earning a high score of 86 to return for the test.

The top four riders were called back for further testing. Meredith Combs was first to test, scoring an 82 with Cassius in the first round before ultimately finishing second. Third place went to Emma Butchard and Conquest. The pair earned an 83 in the first round. Barri Platt completed the top four aboard Avanti Maria, scoring an 85 in the first round and finishing fourth overall.

Ballinger has owned Wanderprinz since she imported him as a four-year-old. Seven years later, the pair has developed a close bond. Ballinger prides herself on the fact that she does all of the care for Wanderprinz and her other horse, Pizzaro, who she competes in the jumper divisions.

Wanderprinz also started out as a jumper, but a lack of speed led Ballinger to experiment with the adult equitation divisions. The dark bay gelding took it well, and the two have forged a fruitful equitation career together. Ballinger won the Ariat National Adult Medal during week eight of the FTI WEF, in addition to division champion in the Adult Equitation division.

Wanderprinz may have left the jumper ring behind, but the skills he learned in the jumper divisions groomed him for success as an equitation mount.

“The jumpers really helped with all the turns. He knows when he lands to pay attention to me for where to go, since it’s not always straight [down the line],” Ballinger explained.

Ballinger was thrilled with her first round course, commenting, “The first round was great. I loved the course. It was an actual equitation course. I thought it was super.”

Of her plan for her course, Ballinger said, “[I wanted] to stay smooth and kind of round all the turns. Just keep a nice pace the whole way, keep the same pace. I think keeping the same pace, like the plan was, really helped [in getting called back to test]. Also executing the corners correctly. We’ve been practicing that, especially this week.”

As the last rider to go, Ballinger, who trains with Lourdes De Guardiola, wasn’t able to get in any extra practice before returning to the ring right away to test. The judge asked riders to canter fences one and two, where they had the option to tighten the sweeping left turn. Riders then continued turning left to trot fence three, a brick wall, before having a tight right turn to hand gallop fence four. Riders where then asked to halt and return to line at the sitting trot.

Ballinger felt confident after hearing the test, remaining focused on maintaining a good rhythm even if it meant sacrificing handier turns.

“Sometimes I have a little trouble leaving the line with the same pace. That’s why I stayed out a little bit to the first jump. I didn’t cut the turn. I’d rather stay out a little and sacrifice that, but get the pace,” she shared.

Ballinger’s ultimate goal for the week is the Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Final on Sunday. Hunter and equitation competition continues on Saturday at the FTI WEF with the Hunt Ltd. Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter Arena. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,000 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.

Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Darragh Kenny and Quiz Win $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m Speed at FTI WEF 9

Darragh Kenny and Quiz. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – March 5, 2014 – The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) kicked off its ninth week of competition on Wednesday, March 5, with a $34,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.45m speed class and a top finish for Ireland’s Darragh Kenny aboard Quiz.

FTI WEF week nine, sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies, continues through Sunday, March 9. Thursday’s competition will begin with the $8,000 G&C Farm 1.45m in the International Arena at 8 a.m. followed by the $125,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 at 11 a.m. The High Amateur-Owner Jumpers have been moved to the Mogavero Ring.

The week will continue on Friday with the $34,000 G&C Farm 1.45m in the afternoon as well as the $25,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Semi-Final Friday night. The $280,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix CSI-W 4*, presented by The Bainbridge Companies, will be featured on Saturday night and the $84,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic will be held on Sunday. The FTI WEF, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.

Ireland’s Alan Wade is the course designer in the International Arena for week nine. Wade set the track for 58 competitors in Wednesday’s 1.45m speed class with 14 clear rounds. Darragh Kenny finished first with Quiz and third aboard Picolo, with Lauren Hough (USA) and Ohlala in second.

Kenny jumped the first clear round of the class aboard his first mount, Oakland Ventures LLC’s Picolo, and set the pace at 61.91 seconds. He then beat his own time with Spruce Meadows’ Quiz several rounds later, taking the lead in 61.65 seconds. Kenny sat first and second until the end, when Lauren Hough jumped into second with Ohlala in 61.76 seconds. Quiz took the win and Picolo settled for third.

“I had a good plan with the first horse,” Kenny noted after the class. “I was really planning on being quick, and he is careful, so I wanted to have a good go. Out of the double, I did eight strides to the liverpool, and I just got caught. He shifted right, and I got caught doing one more stride.”

“I knew somebody was going to beat me, so I said, ‘I better go and try to do it myself!'” Kenny laughed. “With Quiz, I just start and get a good pace, and then if he feels good, I just keep going faster. I am very lucky. I have some really great horses right now and some really great owners. My business is really coming together and the horses are really coming together, and I am a very lucky guy.”

Kenny and Quiz also won the $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic during week four competition. “He has been great,” Kenny acknowledged. “I am just taking my time with him and not pushing him too much. I am just keeping him in the 1.45m and 1.50m classes. He is a very good horse. He is really careful, and he really wants to do well. I am lucky to be able to ride him.”

“Picolo is a horse I had last summer,” Kenny detailed. “He was placed in a couple of grand prix classes. He’s a super fun horse, and he is really competitive. He had some stomach problems over the winter; he got ulcers, and so he has not been showing a lot. I just started him back about four weeks ago, did two weeks, gave him a week off and then did this. He is really easy. He wants to win and wants to be careful, so he is really perfect for these classes.”

Coming from Ireland, Kenny grew up jumping Alan Wade’s courses and always enjoys Wade’s style. “For me, Alan is one of the best course designers in the world,” Kenny declared. “I think he is absolutely fantastic. He does a great job. He never makes anything too difficult that anybody crashes or anything like that, but the issues that you are having, he weeds them out straight away. If you have a problem with a horse’s rideability, guaranteed you are going to have a problem with it. The same if a horse isn’t careful enough, he will catch them out. He’s not very big about the time allowed being very tight. He just builds really good, technical courses up to the height, and he lets the horses and the riders figure it out from there.”

Also showing on Wednesday, week nine’s competition began in the morning with a win for Laura Chapot and Bradberry in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m speed class. Chapot then went on to her second win of the day in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m jump-off class riding Mary Chapot’s Umberto. For full results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,000 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.

Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

First Time Is a Charm for Darragh Kenny and Alpha VDL at HITS Ocala

©ESI Photography. Darragh Kenny and Alpha VDL’s on their way to a win in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix.

OCALA, FL (February 18, 2014) – With no faults and the fastest time, Darragh Kenny of Wellington, Florida and Alpha VDL bested a large field of 51 top tier horses and riders to win the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis at HITS Ocala. The nine-year-old gelding, Alpha VDL, was purchased by Eva Castegren at the VDL Auction in West Palm Beach last March and has been shown lightly until making his grand prix debut with Kenny this weekend.

Most grand prix competitors felt the track designed by course designer Martin Otto of Muenster, Germany to be challenging. The time allowed was set at 71 seconds, but later raised to 73, the course included a total of twelve obstacles and fifteen jumping efforts with a tricky triple combination at fence ten. The course was consistent with knock-downs and time faults as Otto’s track tested the competitors. First to post a clear round was Lazaro and Jordan Coyne of New Port Richey, Florida and only four others would follow them to the jump-off.

Returning first, Lazaro, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood and Coyne finished with four faults at fence seven and a time of 37.7 seconds, which was good for fourth. Quality Girl, a 12-year-old Warmblood mare, with professional rider Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, Florida in the irons finished second in the Zoetis Million at Saugerties last year and pulled a rail at 10b for four faults and finished with a time of 38.28 seconds for fifth place.

Third to jump and making it look easy was the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Viriato ridden by professional Scott Keach of Reddick, Florida, with two double-clear rounds during the class for owner Southern Cross Equestrian. Keach established the Great American Time To Beat at 44.90 seconds with Viriato. This would ultimately give them a third place finish. Next to jump off was Fernando Cardenas of New Hill, North Carolina aboard his 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion Quincy Car. With no faults and a speedy time of 43.75 seconds, they finished seconds.

Kenny was definitely the underdog on a horse with no grand prix experience, but he and Alpha VDL prevailed in the thrilling five-horse jump-off, going clear with a time of 42.24 seconds for the win.

“He’s a big, easy-going horse I’ve shown him a few times now and nothing fazes him,” said Kenny. “He has a big stride and for a big horse he is amazingly light on his feet.”

There will be more grand prix action next Sunday as HITS VI – the Ocala Masters kicks off with the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix and later the $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, both presented by Zoetis. The excitement is building for the first-ever Great American $1 Million Grand Prix. The Great American Million will debut as the second jewel in the HITS Triple Crown of Show Jumping Monday, March 24 in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium.

About Zoetis
Building on 60 years of experience as Pfizer Animal Health, Zoetis delivers quality medicines and vaccines, complemented by diagnostics products and genetics tests and supported by a range of services. They work every day to better understand and address the real-world challenges faced by those who raise and care for animals in ways they find truly relevant. Zoetis produces a comprehensive range of safe and effective products, including equine vaccines, dewormers and sedative analgesics, to help professionals and individual horse owners keep their animals healthy. Both veterinarians and horse owners know and trust the Zoetis will help their horses live longer, healthier lives.

©ESI Photography. Haley Gassel and Werner 61 jump to the blue in the $7,500 U-Dump/SJHOF Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic
©ESI Photography. Haley Gassel and Werner 61 jump to the blue in the $7,500 U-Dump/SJHOF Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic

$7,500 U-Dump/SJHOF Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic, presented by Bayer’s Legend

With two entries in the class and hopes of qualifying for the Bayer’s Legend (hyaluronate sodium) Injectable Solution $250,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Prix in, Haley Gassel of Lenoir City, Tennessee and Werner 61 rode to win in the $7,500 U-Dump/SJHOF Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic, presented by Bayer’s Legend. With a ‘better get it done or you’re going to get left’ attitude, Gassel and Werner 61, a big grey Warmblood, attached the track set by Otto in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium.

Perched ring-side, accomplished professional David Jennings commented on the course: “This stadium has wonderful footing and the course is big enough without being ‘trappey.’ I have jumped lots of courses set by Martin and I know first-hand he is one of the best.”

With an order of go including 23 starters, six moved on to the jump-off. First, Acrobat with Robert Lee of Old Saybrook, Connecticut in the irons for Brook Run Farm, LLC rode to no faults and set The Great America Time to Beat at 34.55 seconds. They ended the class in second.

Gassel returned next and carved out a time of 33.21 seconds for the win. Third place was awarded to Laura Linback of Mundelin, Illinois with four faults and a time of 31.83 seconds. Fourth place on his second entry El Grecco was Lee who returned to best his own time to beat, but clipped a rail to settle with four faults in a time of 33.64 seconds. Michelle Stopford of Reddick, Florida and Zilano M, riding for Hardford Farm M&M, capped the top five with four faults and a time of 34.89 seconds.

$7,500 U-Dump/SJHOF Junior High Jumper Classic, presented by Bayer’s Legend

The Junior section of the High Jumper Classic was able to also jump for their share of prize money over the weekend. It was Dakota Schramer of Holmes Beach, Florida riding No Autographs Please that was the pair to beat and the only one to post a double-clear round.

First to return in the jump-off was Kady Abrahmson of Loveland, Ohio on Basco, trained by Scott Keach of Reddick, Florida. Unfortunately, they pulled a rail at the second element of fence four to pick up four faults, with a time of 31.99 seconds. Their time was eventually the fastest in the jump-off, an effort good enough for second place.

©ESI Photography. Dakota Schramer and No Autographs Please win the $7,500 U-Dump/SJHOF Junior High Jumper Classic
©ESI Photography. Dakota Schramer and No Autographs Please win the $7,500 U-Dump/SJHOF Junior High Jumper Classic

Next in the ring was Schramer and No Autographs Please. With trainer Kris Di Carlo looking on, Schramer was flawless with a clear-round in a time of 32.83 seconds for the win. Third place went to Hayley Waters on No Double with four faults and a time of 38.56 seconds for owner/trainer Chuck & Dana Waters.

With the win came an ample amount of cheering from Schramer’s ring-side fan club and a few tears of joy from her very happy mother. “We have had our problems – he doesn’t like to get deep to the jumps, but he’s getting better and better, and today he was perfect,” said Schramer. “I am gaining a lot of confidence as we go.  I really liked the openness of the stadium and am excited to try to qualify for the Bayer’s Legend Jumper Prix in Saugerties.”

About U-Dump
Since 1980, U-Dump has been manufacturing the finest dump trailers in the industry.  Built strictly from top-grade materials, all of their trailers are made with the latest construction techniques to eliminate bending and breakage in all stress areas.  U-Dump Trailers has built their reputation on manufacturing state-of-the art trailers of the highest quality and endurance. For more information on U-Dump, visit udumptrailers.com.

About Bayer Animal Health
Bayer Animal Health is amongst worldwide leaders in animal health. Bayer has attained this leadership position by continuously researching and developing products for animal health since 1919. A responsible relationship between humans, companion animals and livestock requires ensuring the health of animals. For more information on Bayer Animal Health, visit bayer.com.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • Media_Info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Lauren Hough and Ohlala Speed to Victory in $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 4

Lauren Hough and Ohlala. Photos © Sportfot.

Darragh Kenny and Quiz Triumph in $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic; Team of Dobbs, Mershad, Barnhill and McArdle Wins $10,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Team Event; Spencer Smith and Beau Van Het Keysershof Take Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search

Wellington, FL – January 31, 2014 – The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) continued with a full schedule of competition on Friday, January 31, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. The $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 4 began the day’s competition with a win for Lauren Hough (USA) and Ohlala. The $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic was held in the afternoon with a win for Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Quiz.

The day also featured the $10,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Team Event, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, which was held at The Stadium at PBIEC in the evening with a top finish for the team of Kalvin Dobbs, Gabriela Mershad, Hayley Barnhill, and Abigail McArdle.

FTI WEF four, sponsored by Ariat, runs January 29 to February 2. The week will feature the FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments featuring a concert by four-time Grammy Nominee Hunter Hayes on Saturday night, and the $50,000 Ariat Grand Prix CSI 2* on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC on Sunday afternoon. The FTI WEF features 12 weeks of world-class competition through March 30, awarding $8 million in prize money.

Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios is the course designer in the International Arena at PBIEC for week four competition. For the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 4, which was held as a speed class, Palacios saw 63 entries with 22 clear rounds. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Solerina, owned by Sweet Oak and Spy Coast Farms, held the lead through most of the class with their time of 62.58 seconds, but eventually settled for second when Lauren Hough and Ohlala raced through the timers in 61.46 seconds.

Andres Rodriguez (VEN) and Arao Enterprises LLC’s Caballito finished third in 62.98 seconds. Ronan McGuigan (IRL) and Capall Zidane placed fourth in 63.36 seconds, and Ben Maher (GBR) and Jane Clark’s Aristo Z took fifth place honors with their time of 63.82 seconds.

Ohlala, owned by The Ohlala Group, is a 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare by Orlando x Cardento. The mare has had success around the world with Hough in the irons and continued her winning ways with a speedy top finish in Friday’s class.

“It was a nice course,” Hough stated. “Obviously not many of the horses got worked yesterday with the torrential downpour, and I sort of geared her towards this class this week knowing it was a one round. She is obviously a very quick horse. It wasn’t terribly big, but it was quite careful. There were rails throughout the course, and I think he did a good job considering that for most of these horses it was probably their first class this week. I wouldn’t say it was super technical today, but you needed a really careful horse.”

Hough saw Sweetnam’s round and knew she had a fast time to beat, but looking back, she was not sure where she made up the time.

“I put more steps in than he did, but she is just so quick across the ground,” Hough said. “I always have to stick with my plan and hope that I end up faster than the one in front of me. I don’t know where I made it up. She just was sort of on it everywhere. I was quite quick back to the last double. I didn’t waste a lot of time there, but I did eight strides to the last where most did seven.”

“She is a winner,” Hough noted. “I had a little bit of bad luck last week and not great riding in the grand prix and had two down, which is very uncharacteristic of her. I was a little disappointed in myself, and I thought I would give it a go this week. She is great. First class out, you can go fast and she knows her job.”

In addition to the prize money in Thursday’s class, Hough earned a special $3,000 bonus as part of the SSG ‘Go Clean for the Green’ promotion for wearing her SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves. Each week of the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series, a $3,000 bonus will be awarded to the winning rider if they are wearing SSG ‘Digital’ Riding Gloves in all rounds of competition with the SSG logo clearly visible.

She was also awarded a special trophy for her win, earning the Barry Louise Lane Perpetual Memorial Trophy, presented by Debbie Lane.

Darragh Kenny and Quiz
Darragh Kenny and Quiz

Darragh Kenny and Quiz Triumph in $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic

The $34,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic was held on Friday with a win for Darragh Kenny and Spruce Meadow’s Quiz. The class saw 23 entries with 5 clear rounds to advance to the jump-off and three double clears. Kenny and Quiz earned top honors in 41.05 seconds.

McLain Ward (USA) and Kantunaro, owned by Ellen Holtgers and David Paige, finished second, clearing the course in 41.17 seconds. Alexa Pessoa (USA) and Rodrigo Pessoa’s Levade 35 were the first pair to jump clear and stopped the clock in 42.41 seconds to finish third.

Alex Granato (USA) and Wood Run Farms’ Mullaghdrin Rado had the fastest time of 39.80 seconds, but had one rail down to place fourth. Sydney Shulman (USA) and Marcus Hagglund’s Quirado had four faults in the jump-off in 42.37 seconds to place fifth.

Quiz is a 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding by For Pleasure x Laudanum, owned by Spruce Meadows and the Southern Family. Kenny got the horse last year and has brought him along nicely.

“He’s ten, but he hadn’t done so much. He had only been doing 1.30m,” Kenny noted. “He won a good grand prix with me last year in Saugerties the week of the $1 million class. He has kind of just grown. He is unbelievably careful, he has loads of scope. I really think he is a top horse. I think he is a super, super horse. I am so lucky that Spruce Meadows owns him and that I get to ride him.”

Describing his strategy in the jump-off, Kenny explained, “I just thought, ‘Start going a little bit and then just keep building as the course went on.’ He is still green, so you can’t just go crazy from the start, but he has a big stride and he really wants to be careful, so you have to just keep going at the jumps. Then as it went I just got gradually faster.”

Kenny plans to keep Quiz competing at the 1.50m level this winter and is very happy with the horse’s progress. “He seems to be doing great. He was second last week and he won this week,” Kenny smiled. “He is going to have a week off next week. I really think a lot of the horse, so I am going to take my time with him.”

In addition to Quiz, Kenny has a lot of great young horses this year and is having a nice start to the FTI WEF circuit. “It has been going great,” he said. “I am very busy. I have a lot of good clients and a lot of good owners and some really nice horses. I haven’t yet jumped a Saturday night grand prix, but I’m taking my time. There is no rush. One horse will show next week in the big classes. These horses are all a little bit younger, and I am trying to produce them for the future.”

Team of Dobbs, Mershad, Barnhill and McArdle Wins $10,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Team Event, Presented by The Dutta Corp. in Association with Guido Klatte

Friday’s competition concluded with the $10,000 Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Team Event, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, held in the International Arena at The Stadium at PBIEC (home of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival) in the evening. The class was held in a Nations Cup format over two rounds of competition. With nine teams competing, labeled Team A through Team I, Team F was the winner.

Team F, made up of Kalvin Dobbs and Treesdale Farms’ Winde, Gabriela Mershad and Mershad Stables LLC’s Udonna, Hayley Barnhill and Cara Cheska’s Zephire, and Abigail McArdle aboard David McArdle’s Cosma 20, finished on a total of four faults after the two rounds of competition. The team Chef d’Equipe was Abigail Blankenship.

After the first round, each team dropped their highest score. In the second round, all nine teams returned in order of highest to lowest total faults with three riders each. The winner was determined by the lowest total of each team’s top three riders from each round.

Dobbs and Winde jumped clear in round one and finished with four faults in round two. Mershad had four jumping faults and one time fault in round one to be the drop score in round one and did not return for round two. Barnhill and McArdle both jumped double clear rounds to help their team to victory.

Abigail McArdle and Cosma 20
Abigail McArdle and Cosma 20

McArdle (19), of Wellington, FL, was the anchor rider for her team and had the pressure of putting in a second clear round to clinch the victory for her team as the last to go. McArdle definitely felt the weight on her shoulders, but was confident in her experience.

“Obviously I had to be clean, but we have done this before,” McArdle stated. “We have been team members before where I have been anchor and I have been in this position. It was a great feeling to go in and be able to lay it down and be clean to win.”

McArdle has had great success with her mount Cosma 20, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (Couleur Rubin x Stakkato), and really wanted to go clean for her team.

“Even though I know her back and forth and obviously she is an incredible, once in a lifetime sort of horse, I still get nervous and want to do well,” McArdle admitted. “It’s the same pressure every round, whether it’s this or a speed class, or anything. I feel the same pressure and I want to jump clean and do well. I never assume that I know her, and she’s going to jump clean. We go in and ride to jump clean.”

Barnhill (20), from Collierville, TN, had a different experience with her mount, Zephire, an 11-year-old KWPN mare. Although they have not known each other quite as long, the pair also put in two great clear rounds.

“This is a new horse for me,” Barnhill noted. “I got her at the end of the year last year. She has never shown under the lights or done anything like this before, so we didn’t really know how she was going to be and she was fantastic. She could not have jumped any better, so I was really excited.”

Dobbs (18), from Carmel, IN, has a more experienced horse in Winde, his 11-year-old KWPN mare by Numero Uno x No Limit. The pair has done plenty of night classes, and this is their third year competing in the Artisan Farms young rider series.

“She usually picks up under the lights and it is definitely a lot different because it is more uncommon for us to show under the lights, but she is fun and it’s no big deal for her,” Dobbs said. “I was a bit nervous just because everything was cancelled yesterday, and I haven’t been here for a week and a half. Winde just jumped for the first time this morning since the last young rider grand prix, but we knew how to properly prepare her. It was nice that the course was fair. I thought it was a good course and set us up for a successful class. It ended up being a really fun, good young riders grand prix.”

Mershad (18), from New Albany, OH, showed in the first round with Udonna, her 13-year-old KPWN mare by Madison x Cavalier. Although she did not get to return for the second round, Mershad enjoyed the team experience and appreciated the camaraderie with her teammates.

“I think it is awesome. It teaches you how Nations Cup works, which is a big part of it when you go to senior riding,” Mershad detailed. “It really teaches young riders how it is going to be – how to work with a team and the pressure to be on a team and the support that you need to give each other.”

Showing in the beautiful arena at The Stadium at PBIEC also gave the riders a chance to compete in a different environment from the rings at the main show grounds. Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms noted that the main goal of the series is to give riders different experiences, and the night’s class did exactly that.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is give them exposure to different things,” Ziegler stated. “This particular ring feels like Europe to me. It feels like Vienna, it feels like Cannes, it feels like a stop on the Global Champions Tour. This is magnificent. If they’re looking for that exposure, this is it.”

The riders agreed, also saying that they felt like they were riding in a European arena.

“I loved showing here,” McArdle stated. “I thought this was really cool with the stadium on one side and the tent on the other side. It gave a very arena, international sort of feel. There were so many people here tonight, so I thought it was a great experience. It was really fun. You feel better going in the ring when you have more people supporting you.”

Barnhill added, “I have never shown over here before, so this was a new experience for me and I thought it was great. It was a good experience for all of us, and the horses to get to do something different.”

Behind the winning team, Team H finished second on a six fault total under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe John Roche. The team was made of up of Lorcan Gallagher and Spy Coast Farm LLC’s O’Splendido, Lucas Porter and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Patriot, Chloe Reid and Chloe D. Reid LLC’s Athena, and Wilton Porter aboard Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Radio City. Chloe Reid and Athena were the only other pair to jump double clear in the competition with Barnhill and McArdle. Team H also earned the Best Team Spirit Award.

Team A, coached by Chef d’Equipe Michelle Grubb, placed third with 15 faults in total. The team was made up of Hayley Waters and Dana Waters’ No Doubt, Ali Wolff and John C. Wolff’s Caya, Adrienne Sternlicht and Hathaway, and Alexander Zetterman aboard Springfield Showjumpers’ Zidane.

Spencer Smith and Beau Van Het Keysershof Take Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search at FTI WEF

Spencer Smith and Ashland Farm’s Beau Van Het Keysershof, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood, topped the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search on Friday morning at the FTI WEF. This was the second week in a row the pair collected the top prize for the class.

Second place went to Victoria Colvin with Stallone VDL and the top three was rounded out by Lilly Ulrich and Vocus. The top ten riders over fences were called back to test on the flat, when riders were asked to demonstrate lengthening of stride and the counter canter in both directions, including a simple change in front of the judge’s box.

Smith, a 17-year-old Wellington, FL resident, admitted he was a little thrown by the judge’s request for a simple change.

“I was like ‘Oh, no!'” Smith laughed. “But it worked out nicely. My horse did it really well.”

Beau Van Het Keysershof is a new ride for Smith. The pair have only been together for the last two months, but Smith described the pair as a perfect match.

“We’re a good fit. He’s really my ride, which is nice. He takes you to the jumps, but he’s also really soft and he can melt really quickly,” Smith described.

He continued, “He really wants to do well. He doesn’t want to make mistakes. He can do this course really smoothly.”

While there was lingering evidence of the downpour that drenched Wellington on Thursday, Smith didn’t think it had any effect on his ride.

“It was a nice course. Nothing too tricky and it all worked out nicely for my horse. The footing held pretty nicely in my opinion,” Smith detailed.

The heavy rainfall put a hold on competition for the FTI WEF, with competition being cancelled Thursday. Smith still decided to spend his rain day getting wet, heading to the beach to surf and taking a day off from riding.

Hunter divisions that were to finish on Thursday were pinned based on results from Wednesday’s classes. The Loddon Stalls Pre-Green Level 1 division was split due to a high number of entries, with two division champions ultimately crowned.

Champion of Section A was Cy Young, ridden by Tim Goguen and owned by Belhaven Stables, LLC. Cy Young, a six-year-old Warmblood gelding, swept the section, winning the under saddle class and both over fences rounds. In Section B, CC Cool and Lainie Wimberly were crowned champion. Wimberly and CC Cool, a four-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Piccolino Farm, LLC, placed eighth under saddle and first and second over fences.

Hunter and equitation competition continue Saturday morning with the Ariat National Adult Medal in Ring 6 of the PBIEC. The “Saturday Night Lights” event will highlight the FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge (FTI GCC), presented by Fidelity Investments, featuring a concert by multi-platinum recording artist and four-time Grammy nominee, Hunter Hayes. The FTI GCC has raised $1.75 million for the 35 charities chosen to participate in this year’s event. For full horse show results, please visit www.showgroundslive.com.

About FTI Consulting, Inc.

FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,000 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com.

About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival

The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $7 million in prize money will be awarded.

Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.

Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations
info@jenniferwoodmedia.com

Darragh Kenny Wins $30,000 Zoetis Wild Card Grand Prix to Break the Tape on HITS Championship Weekend

©ESI Photography. Darragh Kenny and Quiz jump to the top of the $30,000 Zoetis Wild Card Grand Prix.

SAUGERTIES, NY (September 6, 2013) – While Friday’s $30,000 Zoetis Wild Card Grand Prix didn’t deliver a true wild card entry for the Zoetis Million, it did give Darragh Kenny of Wellington, Florida some momentum heading into Sunday’s coveted event. Kenny piloted Quiz, owned by Spruce Meadows, to the top spot over a field of 37 as excitement continues to build leading up to HITS Championship Weekend in Saugerties, New York.

After only a month together, Kenny and Quiz recently moved up to the grand prix level after success in 1.30m competition. “He has gained a lot of experience in Saugerties and was good in the grand prix at the Hampton Classic last week, but was super today,” said Darragh. “Today’s course was perfect – tough enough, but not too tough leading up to Sunday.”

Olaf Petersen, Jr. of Meunchen, Germany set Friday’s course and will also build for the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix this weekend. His Wild Card course included 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts, boasting two double combinations – one at the fifth fence of the track and another in the last line.

Under the gorgeous blue skies of the Hudson Valley, ten conquered the first round to move on to the jump-off. It was crowd favorite McLain Ward of Brewster, New York who set the Great American Time to Beat at 40.59 seconds with the first clear round in the second trip of the jump-off. Kenny was soon to answer, however, piloting Quiz to a clear round just shades faster in 40.04 seconds.

Out of the ten who advanced, Ward and Kenny were the only two who posted double clear efforts. Behind them, John Pearce of Bermuda Dunes, California rode Forest View Farm’s Johnny B Good to third. Pearce has been in the grand prix money three times since arriving on the East Coast for the Zoetis Million. He won the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix aboard Son of a Gun last Friday and tuned Chianto up for his fourth-ever $1 Million Grand Prix appearance with a win on Sunday in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix. Quite possibly the West Coast favorite, Pearce is hopeful but practical about Sunday’s Zoetis Million. “You can predict odds in this sport, but can never predict a winner,” he said.

Margie Engle of Wellington, Florida rode to fourth place in the irons of Indigo, owned by Garber, Griese, Hidden Creek & Gladewinds. The pair had a rail down at the second to last fence in the jump-off and posted a time of 42.00 seconds. Capping the top five, Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey rode Quointreau Un Prince, owned by herself and Ward, to a four-fault round in 46.08 seconds.

With Sunday’s Zoetis Million quickly approaching, Kenny is putting his leg over a new mount and will ride Wistful, recently purchased from West Coast rider Ashlee Bond. “We have only jumped one class together, but Wistful jumped the Million in California and has the perfect amount of experience at that level,” he said. “It’s unbelievable how lucky we are to be able to ride on this footing for this kind of prize money against this level of competition in this country. It’s really something special.”

As all attention now turns to Sunday, custom jumps will soon arrive at HITS-on-the-Hudson to make their debut in the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix and, according to Ward, will be the biggest factor on Sunday. He admits that no one knows exactly what is coming from Petersen. Ward will pilot 2012 Pfizer Million winner Antares F on Sunday.

As the sun sets on regular competition at HITS-on-the-Hudson this weekend, riders, trainers, owners and spectators alike are gearing up for some of the most exciting show jumping in the country and the world this weekend. The Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix takes the stage Sunday at 2pm EST and is available via live webcasts at HRTV.com and iEquine.com.

About Zoetis
Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, with a focus on both farm and companion animals. The company generated annual revenues of $4.3 billion in 2012. It has more than 9,300 employees worldwide and a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information on the company, visit www.zoetis.com.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • Media_Info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

Darragh Kenny and Ramiro Quintana Score Opening Day Wins as Silver Oak Jumper Tournament Kicks Off

Darragh Kenny and Picolo. Photos by Tony DeCosta.

Fifteen-year-old Maria Brugal takes opening class with Arann DV

Hampton Falls, NH – August 7, 2013 – Five days of exciting show jumping got underway on Wednesday as the inaugural Silver Oak Jumper Tournament lifted off under gorgeous partly sunny skies in what’s known as the Seacoast region of the Granite State. For those that have never made the trip to New Hampshire, we suggest you put it on your to do list right away. This is a beautiful part of the United States that stretches for miles along the Atlantic Ocean from New Hampshire’s border with Massachusetts to the Piscataqua River and New Hampshire’s border with Kittery, Maine.

Hampton Beach is a wonderful beach town, right on the ocean with classic old hotels with balconies overlooking the main drag, magnificent beach houses, the famous “Shell” and some of the best seafood (and fried dough) you’ll ever get a chance to eat.

Here are a few other things you might not know about New Hampshire.

Of the thirteen original colonies, New Hampshire was the first to declare its independence from Mother England, a full six months before the Declaration of Independence was signed. In 1833 the first free public library in the United States was established in Peterborough. New Hampshire adopted the first legal lottery in the twentieth century United States in 1963. The Pierce Manse in Concord is the home of the only New Hampshire citizen ever elected President, Franklin Pierce, and most importantly, the Bavarian-style hamlet of Merrimack is home to one of the famous eight-horse hitches and the Clydesdales maintained by the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Just a couple of miles down the road from the beach is the Silver Oak Equestrian Center, a horseman’s jewel in Hampton Falls, NH.

Show Chairman Jeff Papows has spent a year and a lot of money getting the property ready for this year’s event, including a complete makeover and change of location of Jumper Ring #2 and making sure the stunning grass grand prix field is in perfect condition. His hard work has been rewarded with nearly four hundred horses turning out for this inaugural offering. “We couldn’t be more excited,” said a delighted Papows. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing this past week and all of us are delighted with the turnout for the show. We had to overcome a lot to get the show rolling this year. We had to deal with cautious exhibitors who were scared by the terrible press the previous event garnered and then the worst blow of all, the death of my dear friend David Birdsall,” he said.

Birdsall, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year, was the owner of the Silver Oak Equestrian Center. There will be a special ceremony honoring his memory during Sunday’s Grand Prix festivities.

There’s a new Vendor Village location, with a number of fun shops located there and others situated across the grounds. And the food… the food is going to be great if last night’s opening staff meeting and get together is any indication. The White Apron, located in Dover, will be providing their delicious delicacies throughout the week. They have won numerous awards and it’s easy to see why.

Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr. is on hand to design the course for this year’s Silver Oak Tournament. Petersen, one of the world’s most popular and respected builders, has worked the world’s best shows, including the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.

Maria Brugal and Arann DV
Maria Brugal and Arann DV

In the first event of the day, the 1.20m Open Jumpers, Time First Jump-Off class, it was junior rider Maria Brugal scoring the victory with her feisty gray horse Arann DV. The fifteen-year-old rider ripped through the short course in 45.357 seconds for the win, topping a starting field of forty-one in the opening affair.

Of the forty-one that went to the post, fifteen went on to the jump-off, fourteen of those going double clear.

Second through fourth places were tightly bunched within the 46 second range. Eight tenths a second behind in second place was Kevin McCarty and Ambitious who tripped the timers in 46.127 seconds. Third place went to Allyson Shryoc, piloting Cheval D’Espoirz to a final time of 46.227 seconds, just a tenth of a second off the pace for second place. Rounding out the top four was Maria Brugal’s second mount, Diabolo Van Cadzandhoeve, crossing the finish line in 46.780 seconds.

“This is my first time here,” smiled Brugal, who rides with “Titi” Mills. “Riding out on the big field was great fun. The grass is in wonderful shape, the footing is great and you could do a lot of galloping. It’s refreshing to come to a new place that’s so beautiful.”

Speaking of her equine partner, Brugal said, “He’s an eight-year-old. I just got him last year. We’ve been working with him a lot. He’s a little bit strong, but I think our hard work is beginning to pay off.”

The 1.30m Jumpers, also scored at Table II, Sec 2b Time First Jump-Off class was next with thirty-one going to the post.

The last proved to be the best as Ramiro Quintana stormed to victory on Bialda, a top seven-year-old Young Jumper owned by St. Bride’s Farm of Upperville, Virginia. Quintana blasted through the finish line in 34.719 seconds to steal the win from Darragh Kenny and Mantana, owned by Oakland Ventures. Kenny had held the lead since the thirteenth to go in order. Kenny’s second place time was 35.483 seconds. Kenny also secured third place with Quiz, second to last to go in the class. Quiz, also owned by Oakland Ventures, tripped the timers in 36.454 seconds.

“David and Barbara Roux bought the horse a year ago for me to bring along. She’s very scopey, she’s very brave and she’s really quite fast as you saw in today’s class,” Quintana said of Bialda. “She’s going to the Hampton Classic to compete in the Seven-Year-Old Young Jumper Finals and then I’ll bring her along through the program, advancing her to the Eight-Year-Olds next year.”

Ramiro Quintana and Bialda
Ramiro Quintana and Bialda

Quintana, who outdistanced Kenny by almost a full second, explained where he found the faster track. “I got a chance to watch Darragh go,” he said. “I left out a stride in the last line and did seven there where everyone else was doing eight and I was quite neat to one-two-three and back on the double combination.”

“Awesome. A great venue,” Quintana said of the Silver Oak facility. “This is the first time here for me and I couldn’t be happier that I came. I have a bunch of young horses here. I have six-year-olds, seven-year-olds, eight-year-olds and I wanted to give them the experience and mileage on grass because they are all headed to the Hamptons. It’s hard to find shows in America in the summer where there’s a grass field and this field is absolutely perfect,” he noted and added, “Plus, I was really pleased with Olaf; you’ve got a great course designer in Olaf Petersen, Jr. with good footing and beautiful jumps so the horses are jumping really, really well. I couldn’t be happier.”

Rounding out the top six were Lauren Tisbo and Tequesta Farms’ Sting Van de Withoeve, Peter Leone aboard Alias, owned by Kiva Iscol and Candice King with Bellissimo LLC’s VDL Maleklou. Tisbo clocked in at 37.133 seconds, Leone broke the beams in 37.548 seconds and King came home in 37.670 seconds.

Of the thirty-one that started, sixteen went clear the first time and fourteen went on to be double clear.

The final event on opening day was the 1.40m Open Jumpers, Table II Section 2b, Time First Jump-Off with twenty starters. This time around, Irish rider Darragh Kenny left no doubt, making sure he wouldn’t get bumped out of the top spot. In fact, he finished first and second to wrap up a very successful afternoon.

Riding Oakland Venture’s Picolo, Kenny secured the victory without really trying. “I didn’t think I was that fast on my last horse. At that point, I knew I had the class won and I was only really schooling for the Welcome class tomorrow,” Kenny explained. “But, he’s naturally so fast; it’s so easy to gallop with him. In the jump-off I didn’t think I was faster, but he’s so quick across the ground and he’s so careful, you don’t have to worry about anything at the jumps. It’s so rare that a horse does both.”

Kenny, who had been leading with Quiz, another Oakland Ventures entry in 34.732 seconds, managed to slice a tenth of a second off of that time with Picolo to finish in 34.633 seconds for the victory.

“I bought him during the off week at Spruce Meadows,” Kenny noted. “He came from France two weeks ago and went straight to HITS Saugerties where he placed in all four grand prix over the two weeks in Saugerties. He was second last Friday and second in the $100,000 grand prix up there. I brought him here and wasn’t really intending on showing him today, but I’ve only had him two weeks and had never ridden him on grass, so I thought I’d get him out and see how it goes,” he said.

Kenny, who ventured out on his own after a long stint with top trainer Missy Clark, has developed a nice group of young horses and couldn’t be happier at this point of his life. “Really good,” he smiled. “I’ve got a great string of horses – very careful, very competitive and easy to ride. I think it’s going to be a little bit of fun for me now. I have some great clients and some wonderful horses underneath me, so I couldn’t be happier.”

As far as the Silver Oak facility, Kenny said, “I think the facility and the horse show is absolutely fantastic. I think it’s a brilliant show. The show is run well, the field is beautiful, the footing is super, so it’s really enjoyable to be here. The people are so nice. I can’t say enough good things about this horse show. And the course designer did a lovely job today.”

With a lot of clean rounds through the three classes today, Kenny expects that to change as the week progresses. “Nobody had anything bad happen. I think he was just trying to be fair today. Just get everybody in the ring, get everybody jumping around and get everybody happy. I think he will be a little tougher tomorrow and then I think he’ll be quite tough by the time we get to Sunday,” Kenny stated. “I think he has a good feel for the good riders that are competing here.”

Molly Ashe-Cawley finished third in today’s 1.40m class with Lincourt Gino, owned by Monica Carrera. Crossing the finish line in 34.883 seconds, Ashe-Cawley missed the mark by just 2/10ths of a second. Fourth place went to another Darragh Kenny mount, Cequila, owned by Oakland Ventures, who broke the beams in 35.248 seconds.

Fifth place went to Ziedento and Ramiro Quintana for the St. Bride’s Farm and sixth went to Wiesielottie from the Winley Farm.

The $20,000 Welcome Stake highlights tomorrow’s show schedule, along with a variety of Open and Junior-A/O Jumper classes.

The $75,000 Equestrian Estate Planning Group Grand Prix dominates the Sunday schedule in Hampton Falls as an elite group of top riders will vie for big prize money in the class and the $25,000 Boston Strong Bonus. The $25,000 cash prize will go to any horse and rider combination that win both the $75,000 Equestrian Estates Planning Group Grand Prix at Silver Oak and the Grand Prix at Fieldstone next week. Sunday’s Grand Prix is preceded by the $15,000 Agero Speed Classic.

Saturday’s session features a number of exciting show jumping competitions, including the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Classics for top Junior and Amateur Owner Jumpers and the $15,000 DG Ventures Speed Derby, a challenging test over 18-20 obstacles in a race for the title.

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Darragh Kenny and Any Given Sunday Leave Competition Behind at The Ridge 1.40m Grand Prix Invitational

Darragh Kenny and Any Given Sunday.

Wellington, FL – March 8, 2013 – The grass was freshly cut, the vibrant and colorful jumps were set and music was playing in the background for the ninth week of The Ridge’s 1.40m Grand Prix Invitational Series. Eleven went clear over Pierre Jolicouer’s course, but no one could catch up to Darragh Kenny in the jump off. Aboard Any Given Sunday, the two were on a mission to claim first place and were not about to let anyone stop them.

After completing the first round with a time of 75.127, Kenny was racing to beat McLain Ward and Cruz Z. Aboard Any Given Sunday, the pair jumped the first four fences of the second round effortlessly, then blazed over the final oxer to vertical combination in a time of 33.638 seconds. They went as fast as they could to finish in first. Earlier in the day, Kenny piloted S & L Slingback to a third place finish with a time of 36.146.

“Any Given Sunday is a ten-year-old stallion I’ve had since the start of the winter season. I just brought him here to give him a change of venue. It’s a great show, a fantastic venue; they do a great job and it’s really enjoyable,” acknowledged Kenny. “We’re always at WEF all the time and so busy, but then you come here and it’s so peaceful; it’s a nice break.”

Jeffery Welles and Merlin
Jeffery Welles and Merlin

Jeffery Welles was the closest rider to being able to catch Kenny, with a double clear effort. Aboard 11-year-old Merlin, the two finished the jump off in 35.923 seconds. The veteran used the field to his advantage, utilizing quick turns and a fast pace.

“He’s quite a hot horse, strong, but he’s careful and brave. This is the best setting for him. A new field that looks different. We’re so used to jumping in sand fields and all-weather footing that it’s nice to jump on the grass,” explained Welles.

With only one week remaining in the 10-week series, many were taking advantage of the grass field at Mida Farm and the relaxing atmosphere that is offered to competitors. Many familiar faces were seen entering the in-gate, such as Ward, who has competed in five of the nine weeks.

Ward and Cruz Z went on to finish the class in fourth place with a time of 36.932. After only working together for about three weeks, the pair certainly showed that they are ones to watch out for in the future. McLain was holding the top spot with his other mount, Cocoa 135, until he turned too quickly in the during the second round, knocking a rail down over the last vertical.

“I think it’s giving some options and showing that people enjoy having a change of venue,” stated Ward. “To continue on one venue is difficult on the trainers, staff, and horses. The theory that you can choose what weeks you want to show at WEF doesn’t work well, for the trainers and staff you are there all the time. This is a breath of fresh air to have a change of venue and I think the horses enjoy it.”

The change of venue and relaxing atmosphere has been catching on more and more. The series, which started out small has grown immensely and is widely popular among the top professionals and amateurs alike.

“I’m very happy that farms like G & C are here and Luis, and to have Jeffery back, Amy Miller. It proves that it’s a need and that people are loving it,” remarked George D’Ambrosio. “There are a lot of happier people and smiles, a feeling of accomplishment for introducing something new and inventive.”

Mida Farm, owned by Victoria McCullough, has become the popular spot and has been key for keeping riders coming back. This week, Jan Tops, the field’s namesake, was in town and came out to show his support for the series and the sport.

The immense grass field has become a cornerstone of the series and McCullough and Top’s generous support is has taken the sport to a higher level. By allowing riders on the property, McCullough has opened the sport to a more traditional and European way of riding, and has brought the relaxed and majestic atmosphere to show jumping.

“This wasn’t made to be a competition,” said D’Ambrosio. “We wanted to add to the magnificence that is in Florida, wondering what better place there was to develop this stage and level of competition. We wanted to be able to provide a different venue offering the traditional grass ring, hospitality, using beautiful, colorful jumps to enhance the development of young horses and riders. We wanted to create something that wasn’t commercialized and create education for the future generations of our sport. The main purpose was to develop young riders and send them to European tours with some experience and a strong backbone. We were fortunate enough to meet generous people such as Victoria who believe in the future of the sport and the riders as well as want to provide an old world charm with a European type flair. What we created was so positive and was such a need and filled a niche in Wellington.”

D’Ambrosio continued, “We wanted to compliment the Winter Equestrian Festival by helping riders prepare to face challenges and learn to ride outside of the box. We didn’t create this to make money; it was designed to give back to a sport that has given us everything we have. We are trying to give back in every way we know how. We welcome everybody to the final event and we would like to thank all of the riders, friends and supporters who believe in the series and show the importance of it for the future.

Next week will be the final week of the series and the Invitational finale will be held on March 23, where the Leading Rider will be announced.

For more information about the Ridge at Wellington, please go to http://www.theridgefarm.com. For up-to-date information, please follow the Ridge at Wellington on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Ridge-at-Wellington/219358376264.

Arianna Delin for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

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